Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

Reformed Witness Hour Newsletter - November 2021

 
Fri, Oct 22 at 10:15 AM
 
 

News from the
Reformed Witness Hour for November 2021

 

Upcoming Broadcasts for November

 

 
For November, Rev. Bruinsma continues his series on Faith from Hebrews 11. Rev. Bruinsma is the pastor of Pittsburgh Protestant Reformed Church in Pittsburgh, PA. 
November 7
By Faith Abraham Obeys God's Call 
Hebrews 11:8-10

November 14
By Faith Sarah Conceives
Hebrews 11:11, 12

November 21
Satisfied With Marrow and Fatness
Psalm 63:3-5

November 28
Desiring a Better Country
Hebrews 11:13-16
Listen to the current message here
 
Sermon Statistics
So far in 2021, there have been over 13,000 downloads. We continue to be encouraged by increased site traffic and sermon downloads when we feature a sermon on the Reformed Witness Hour Sermon Audio website. On average, over the past year, we have seen about 520 more overall downloads each month that we have a featured sermon. On average, each featured sermon receives about 350 downloads which tells us that in addition to a large number of people hearing this message, listeners are engaging further with our website and listening to additional messages. We are excited about this tool to help us spread the Good News.

In the chart above, Featured Sermons are indicated in orange.
 
Favorite Messages


The Favorite Message so far from 2021 is Certainty in Prayer by Rev Kleyn. Certainty in Prayer is the end of a series on prayer by Rev. Kleyn from 2010. 

Listen to Certainty in Prayer here
Listen to the full Prayer Series here
 

To learn more about us or to make a donation
to our internet and radio ministry, click here.
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PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for October 31, 2021

The following are special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this Sunday, October 31, the forty-fourth Lord's Day of this year 2021.Martin Luther Here I Stand4

Today is Reformation Sunday, the day we remember and celebrate God's glorious restoration of His church in the sixteenth century on the basis of His infallible Word. May we treasure the pure worship and the pure Word we have received from the Lord's hand through the Reformers. And may we recommit to maintaining these blessings of His pure grace.

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:20-26)

  • If you are new to this website and are interested in the PRC, we invite you to join us at any of our services (morning and afternoon/evening). For congregations, locations and times, visit this page.

  • Last Sunday Covenant of Grace PRC (Spokane, WA) extended a call to Rev. C. Spronk (Faith PRC). He plans to answer this call by Nov.14.

  • Last Sunday Wingham PRC (Ontario, Can.) called Rev. D. Holstege (missionary to the Philippines). He plans to answer this call by Nov.14.

  • Rev. D. Lee will be installed as pastor of Kalamazoo PRC next Sunday, Nov.7, D.V. Rev. C. Griess will lead the service. Her bullletin today contained this note of appreciation: "Today marks the last time Prof. Huizinga will be leading us in worship on a regular basis. We thank him for his faithfulness in bringing to us the word of life each Sunday morning this past year. May God continue to bless Prof. Huizinga in all of his labors at the seminary, in our denomination, and as co-editor of the Standard Bearer."

  • The consistory of Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, AB) reports in her bulletin that the congregation of First PRC, Edmonton, AB, will be reorganized and the consistory reconstituted on Wednesday Nov.10. Rev. A. Brummel (church visitor of Classis West) will lead the worship service and Rev. H.Bleyenberg will chair the congregational meeting afterward. We rejoice in this news and pray for the Lord's blessing on these plans and preparations.
     
  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Rev. D.Lee in Covenant of Grace PRC (Spokane, WA); Rev. J.Marcus in Doon (IA) PRC; Prof. B.Gritters and Rev. D.Holstege in Grace PRC; Prof. R.Cammenga and Rev. D.Noorman in Hudsonville PRC; Prof. B.Huizinga and Rev. R.Kleyn in Kalamazoo PRC (the last Sunday for stated supply!); Rev. W.Langerak in Wingham PRC.  We thank the Lord for this blessing of our church federation and the privilege to be able to help one another in this need.

  • For those who may still be limited to house worship, whether completely or partially, we invite you to visit the PR churches page and follow the links to the websites where the churches' livestream may be found. Or you may visit the selected audio sermon page and listen to one of your choice there.

  • Did you know that...
    •  these congregations are having Reformation Day lectures yet this week?
      • Covenant ERC-Singapore: Please note that this year’s Reformation Day Conference 2021 will be held on 3 and 4 November 2021 (Wednesday and Thursday). Due to the COVID restrictions, this will be conducted online via Zoom. Pastor Josiah Tan will deliver 2 speeches on the theme: “Always Reforming in Me”. After the 2nd speech, there will be a Q&A and Quiz Session.
      • Pittsburgh (PA) PRC: Friday, November 5, 7 p.m. Rev. W. Bruinsma, on the life and labors of Augustine of Hippo.
      • Randolph PRC: Friday evening, November 5, 7:30 P.M. Rev. Guichelaar plans to give a presentation on the CRC split from the RCA in 1857.
    • the church visitors from Classis East and Classis West are busy with their annual visits this time of year? Let's remember them in prayer in their special labors too, especially in these difficult times. May they be a source of encouragement to our councils and consistories.

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

  • Classis East: The churches of Classis East will gather this Tuesday night, Nov.2, for a special day of prayer. Classis East has judged that such a special day in which we humble ourselves before God and implore His grace will be very fitting in light of the troubles in our churches, as well as the great need we have for ministers of the Word. This decision was taken in accordance with Article 66 of the Church Order: "In time of war, pestilence, national calamities, and other great afflictions, the pressure of which is felt throughout the churches, it is fitting that the classes proclaim a day of prayer."
  • Next week Revs. W.Bruinsma and K.Koole will attend the 46th meeting of NAPARC on Nov.9-10 at Shiloh OPC in Raleigh, NC.

sem sign Nov 2020

PRC Seminary Notices:

  • This past week the seminary completed its ninth week of the first semester. Remember to pray for faculty, students, and staff as they carry out their day-to-day work. You will find the semester schedule and calendar posted on the seminary's website.
  • The seminary's special conference on preaching was held this past Thursday and Friday, Oct.28-29, at Trinity PRC. The faculty is appreciative of those who attended and who participated through the livestream. The speeches will be available online this week.
  • The Spring PRT Journal is currently available in its digital forms on the seminary's website and in print. The printed copies have been mailed out. If you wish to pick up a copy, stop in at the seminary. If you want to be added to our mailing list, contact Sharon, the seminary secretary. Work has begun on the fall issue as well.
  • The seminary library and bookstore are open daily (M-F, 8-5) for any of your book and Bible needs. The staff is available to assist with any other needs you may have as well. Feel free to call in advance for help with any questions.
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

PRCP Classis Feb2020 2
The PRC-Philippines Classis will meet tomorrow (see note below).

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSION NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore and her Kolkata, India mission work:
    • Today's bulletin ("Pastoral Voice"): To understand what evangelism is we must look at the Covenant. The covenant in one word is friendship. God was Abraham’s friend and He is our friend. God walked with Enoch and God walks with us. God even shares His secrets with us His people! Every day, our friendship with God is like an adventure. It is thrilling! Every day, we cannot wait what he is going to say to us when we read His word. Every Lord’s Day, we can't wait to hear what Christ will speak to us in the preaching - Words of love, Words of comfort. Words of the wonderful works of God, especially of the Cross! Words of life.
    • The latest issue of "Reformed News Asia" is October 2021 - #64. Be sure to check it out for the latest news from our sister!
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
  • PRC in the Philippines and her mission work:
    • Berean PRC bulletin: Rev. D.Kleyn led the services today.Rev. Ibe and elder Umali are scheduled to visit the saints in All of Grace Protestant Reformed Fellowship (AGPRF), Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija today. Rev. Ibe will lead them in their worship service and bible study on the book of Ephesians 4.
    • Provident PRC bulletin: Rev. R. Smit led her worship services today.
    • Classis of the congregations of the PRCP is scheduled to convene on Monday (Nov. 1, 2021) at 9:00 A.M. at BPRC Antipolo City, the Lord willing. We pray for God’s blessings upon the labors of the Classis.

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Listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you, on Sermonaudio, or on your favorite podcast - wherever you are!

WBruinsma 2017

  • Currently, Rev. W.Bruinsma (Pittsburgh PRC, Pennsylvania) is the featured speaker, with focus on a series on Hebrews 11. Today's message is based on Hebrews 11:7 and titled "By Faith Noah Prepares an Ark."
  • Listen to the broadcast on the station near you, on your favorite podcast (Google Music, Spotify, and iTunes), or visit the links provided here to listen to this program. Are you are regular listener? If not, why not begin today!
  • The Reformed Witness Hour publishes each month's messages in an attractive booklet. These printed sermons are a great blessing to many and are distributed all over the world, including to many prisoners in the U.S. If you or your Evangelism Committee would like to receive these, let the RWHC know and they will add you to the mailing list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM

“Here I stand” in the fear of the Lord
What are you reading for Reformation month? This special issue of the Standard Bearer focuses on Luther's stand at the Diet of Worms in 1521.  If you do not already receive this magazine, visit the SB website to sign up to do so.

  • Are you interested in learning more about the doctrines and practices of the PRC? Or, are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Or are you simply interested in growing in your faith and walk with the Lord? Visit the Resources pages of this website and the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

  • Do you need some catechism materials for use in your church or family? The PRC publishes catechism materials on Bible history and Reformed doctrine, for children of all ages. Visit this page for more information.

  • For sound, distinctively Reformed literature on a variety of subjects and for all ages - including church history and Bible study materials - visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association website or stop in at their Jenison (Michigan) location.

  • The Reformed Book Outlet is open and you are welcome to shop the store in downtown Hudsonville (MI). Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday (10-5), and Saturday (10-1).

This Week's Thought for Contemplation

But why dwell on this? There is no point which is more keenly contested, none in which our adversaries are more inveterate in their opposition, than that of justification, namely, as to whether we obtain it by faith or by works. On no account will they allow us to give Christ the honor of being called our righteousness, unless their works come in at the same time for a share of the merit. The dispute is not, whether good works ought to be performed by the pious, and whether they are accepted by God and rewarded by him, but whether, by their own worth, they reconcile us to God; whether we acquire eternal life at their price, whether they are compensations which are made to the justice of God, so as to take away guilt, and whether they are to be confided in as a ground of salvation. We condemn the error which enjoins men to have more respect to their own works than to Christ, as a means of rendering God propitious, of meriting His favor, and obtaining the inheritance of eternal life; in short, as a means of becoming righteous in His sight. First, they plume themselves on the merit of works, as if they laid God under obligations to them. Pride such as this, what is it but a fatal intoxication of soul? For instead of Christ, they adore themselves, and dream of possessing life while they are immersed in the profound abyss of death.

It may be said that I am exaggerating on this head, but no man can deny the trite doctrine of the schools and churches to be, that it is by works we must merit the favor of God, and by works acquire eternal life — that any hope of salvation unpropped by good works is rash and presumptuous — that we are reconciled to God by the satisfaction of good works, and not by a gratuitous remission of sins — that good works are meritorious of eternal salvation, not because they are freely imputed for righteousness through the merits of Christ, but in terms of law; and that men, as often as they lose the grace of God, are reconciled to Him, not by a free pardon, but by what they term works of satisfaction, these works being supplemented by the merits of Christ and martyrs, provided only the sinner deserves to be so assisted. It is certain, that before Luther became known to the world, all men were fascinated by these impious dogmas; and even in the present day, there is no part of our doctrine which our opponents impugn with greater earnestness and obstinacy.

Taken from John Calvin's important work "The Necessity of Reforming the Church"

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PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for October 24, 2021 *(Updated)

The following are special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this Sunday, October 24, the forty-third Lord's Day of this year 2021.

Ps 28 7This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (Ps.118:24). On this new Lord's Day we bring our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving unto our sovereign Creator and Redeemer, who is worthy of all honor and glory. With the psalmist may we boldly say in Christ Jesus,

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed. Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever. ~ Psalm 28:7-9

  • If you are new to this website and are interested in the PRC, we invite you to join us at any of our services (morning and afternoon/evening). For congregations, locations and times, visit this page.

  • Rev. D. Lee and his wife moved into the Kalamazoo PRC parsonage this past week. He will be installed by Rev. C. Griess on Nov.7, D.V.

  • Last Sunday Rev. E. Guichelaar (Randolph PRC) declined the calls to Doon PRC and Hudsonville PRC.

  • The Council of Covenant of Grace PRC (Spokane, WA) has a new trio of potential pastors to the congregation of Rev. D. Noorman (Southwest PRC), Rev. C.Spronk (Faith PRC) and Rev. Dan Holstege (Missionary, Philippines). The congregation will call today. *UPDATE: Rev. C. Spronk has received this call.

  • Wingham PRC has announced a new duo of Revs. D.Holstege and D.Kleyn (Rev. D. Lee who was on the trio accepted the call to Kalamazoo). The congregation votes today. *UPDATE: Rev. D.Holstege has received this call.

  • The consistory of Immanuel PRC (Lacombe, AB) reports in her bulletin today that the congregation of First PRC, Edmonton, AB, will be reorganized and the consistory reconstituted on Wednesday Nov.10. Rev. A. Brummel (church visitor of Classis West) will lead the worship service and Rev. H.Bleyenberg will chair the congregational meeting afterward. We rejoice in this news and pray for the Lord's blessing on these plans and preparations.
     
  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Prof. R. Cammenga in Covenant of Grace PRC (Spokane, WA); Rev. M. Kortus (2nd week) in Doon (IA) PRC; Prof. B.Gritters and Rev. C.Haak in Grace PRC; Prof. C.Griess and Sem. M.Wee in Hudsonville PRC; Prof. B.Huizinga and Rev. A. Spriensma in Kalamazoo PRC; Rev. D. Holstege in Wingham PRC.  We thank the Lord for this blessing of our church federation and the privilege to be able to help one another in this need.

  • For those who may still be limited to house worship, whether completely or partially, we invite you to visit the PR churches page and follow the links to the websites where the churches' livestream may be found. Or you may visit the selected audio sermon page and listen to one of your choice there.

  • Did you know that...
    •  these congregations are having Reformation Day lectures yet this season?
      • Crete PRC (IL): Friday, October 29, 7 p.m. Mr. Dan Van Uffelen will speak on "Post Tenebras Lux: The Vocation Reformation."
      • Pittsburgh (PA) PRC: Friday, November 5, 7 p.m. Rev. W. Bruinsma, on the life and labors of Augustine of Hippo.
      • Randolph PRC: Friday evening, November 5, 7:30 P.M. Rev. Guichelaar plans to give a presentation on the CRC split from the RCA in 1857.
    • Calvary PRC shows wonderful Christian care for the college students who attend her services during the school year. This note of thanks in her bulletin today from the recipients shows how much it is appreciated: The college students attending Calvary express their gratitude to the congregation for the thoughtful care packages they received this week from the care committee. We appreciate your thoughtfulness and the expression of love especially as some of us are away from our families and churches for a time. “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.” Psalm 34:3

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:
King James Bible Scripture Pictures: The Book of Psalms - Psalms 68:11 The  Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it. |  FacebookSeminary Conference this Week! You sit under the preaching of the gospel every Lord’s Day. What do you hear? What do you desire to hear? What is God doing in your soul through the preaching? How do you respond to the preaching, to its admonitions, to the call of the gospel? The conference speakers will address these and other related questions. Four speeches will be given, at 4:00 and 7:30 on Oct. 28 and 29. Trinity PRC is hosting this event. Everyone who sits under the preaching of the Word is cordially invited to attend. The conference will be livestreamed for people who are interested but unable to join in person. See the flyer attached to this post for more details.

Rainbow sem Oct 2021
Rainbow over seminary this past Wednesday morning at daybreak

PRC Seminary Notices:

  • This past week the seminary had a shortened week, with the reading recess held Thursday and Friday. Students have been taking mid-terms exams, as well as working on their research papers. Remember to pray for faculty, students, and staff as they carry out their day-to-day work. The semester schedule and calendar have been posted on the seminary's website.
  • Profs. R.Cammenga and D.Kuiper gave Reformation Day lectures this past week in Spokane, WA and Loveland, CO and Hull, IA respectively. This weekend - Thursday and Friday - is the seminary's conference on preaching (see notes above and below).
  • The Spring PRT Journal is now available in its digital forms on the seminary's website and in print. The printed copies have been mailed out. If you wish to pick up a copy, stop in at the seminary. If you want to be added to our mailing list, contact Sharon, the seminary secretary.
  • The seminary library and bookstore are open daily (M-F, 8-5) for any of your book and Bible needs. The staff is available to assist with any other needs you may have as well. Feel free to call in advance for help with any questions.
  • Coming this week - Oct.28 & 29! Seminary Conference on Preaching: You sit under the preaching of the gospel every Lord’s Day. What do you hear? What do you desire to hear? What is God doing in your soul through the preaching? How do you respond to the preaching, to its admonitions, to the call of the gospel? The conference speakers will address these and other related questions. Four speeches will be given, at 4:00 and 7:30 on Oct. 28 and 29. Trinity PRC is hosting this event. Everyone who sits under the preaching of the Word is cordially invited to attend. The conference will be livestreamed for people who are interested but unable to join in person. (*see attachment for the conference flyer!)
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

CPRC News Header

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSION NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore and her Kolkata, India mission work:
    • Today's bulletin ("Pastoral Voice"): As we begin our study of this ancient creed in the Heidelberg catechism preaching. Let us keep this in mind. Let us rediscover our love for the core truths of scripture. These same truths that the saints in the early church loved and died for. May these simple but unfathomably deep truths of God’s word profit us spiritually and serve to comfort us. May this round of Heidelberg Catechism preaching on the Apostle’s Creed also equip us to instruct our children and do the work of evangelism.
    • A new issue of "Reformed News Asia" is out - #64 - October 2021. Be sure to check it out for the latest news from our sister!
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A.Stewart continues to minister the Word faithfully to his flock in Ballymena.
    • Plan to attend this year’s Reformation Day Lecture on Friday, 29 October, entitled “Fulgentius of Ruspe, the Sixth-Century N. African Church and God’s Saving Will.”
    • Be sure to check out the newest edition of "Covenant Reformed News" - October 2021, just out this week! Follow the link to read the latest profitable articles.

  • PRC in the Philippines and her mission work:
    • Berean PRC bulletin: Rev. V.Ibe led the services today.The saints in All of Grace Protestant Reformed Fellowship (AGPRF), Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija, will join us in our
      worship services today via live streaming at our Facebook page.
    • Provident PRC bulletin: Rev. R. Smit led her worship services today.
    • Classis of the congregations of the PRCP is scheduled to convene on Monday (Nov. 1, 2021) at 9:00 A.M. at BPRC Antipolo City, the Lord willing. We pray for God’s blessings upon the labors of the Classis.

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Listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you, on Sermonaudio, or on your favorite podcast - wherever you are!

WBruinsma 2017

  • Currently, Rev. W.Bruinsma (Pittsburgh PRC, Pennsylvania) is the featured speaker, with focus on a series on Hebrews 11. Today's message is based on Hebrews 11:5,6 and titled "Enoch's Translation."
  • Listen to the broadcast on the station near you, on your favorite podcast (Google Music, Spotify, and iTunes), or visit the links provided here to listen to this program. Are you are regular listener? If not, why not begin today!
  • The Reformed Witness Hour publishes each month's messages in an attractive booklet. These printed sermons are a great blessing to many and are distributed all over the world, including to many prisoners in the U.S. If you or your Evangelism Committee would like to receive these, let the RWHC know and they will add you to the mailing list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM

HereWeStand
What are you reading for Reformation month? This fine collection of articles commemorating the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation will strengthen your faith!

  • Are you interested in learning more about the doctrines and practices of the PRC? Or, are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Or are you simply interested in growing in your faith and walk with the Lord? Visit the Resources pages of this website and the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

  • Do you need some catechism materials for use in your church or family? The PRC publishes catechism materials on Bible history and Reformed doctrine, for children of all ages. Visit this page for more information.

  • For sound, distinctively Reformed literature on a variety of subjects and for all ages - including church history and Bible study materials - visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association website or stop in at their Jenison (Michigan) location.

  • The Reformed Book Outlet is open and you are welcome to shop the store in downtown Hudsonville (MI). Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday (10-5), and Saturday (10-1).

This Week's Thought for Contemplation

The Liberation of the Bible

What, then, was the nature of the liberating movement of the Reformation? My first answer to this question is, that it liberated the Bible itself. You may, perhaps, remark that this is a somewhat strange expression. You object, perhaps, that the Word of God it always free and that it is quite impossible to put it in bondage. And this is true, of course, if you mean by the Word of God, the almighty and efficacious Word God Himself speaks. That Word is irresistible and certainly is never bound. And it did its work all through the ages, even in the darkest of periods. It was the cause of those separate movements that prepared the Reformation, connected with the names of John Huss, John Knox, the Waldenses and Albigenses, and to an extent Savonarola in Italy, and the Brethren of the Common Life in the Netherlands. It also prepared the Reformation in the soul of Luther, before it finally broke forth into a blazing fire on that memorable eve of All Saints Day in 1517. But what cannot be done to the Word of God as God Himself speaks it, certainly may be and often is done to the Word of God as we possess it in written form, in the Bible. It can be put into bondage. And this was actually done as it still is done by the Roman Catholic Church. It was from this bondage that the Reformation liberated the Bible.

Taken from"The Reformation and the Bible" by Herman Hoeksema

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Covenant Reformed News - October 2021

 

Covenant Reformed News


October 2021 • Volume XVIII, Issue 18



God’s Chariot Departs From the Temple

In the last issue of the News, we saw that the four cherubs or living creatures or angels of Ezekiel 10 each possess four faces and four wings. Now we note that every one of them has hands (1:8; 10:21). Probably these cherubs had two hands each since angels in Scripture are presented as having a largely human form: “the hands of a man” (21). Next month, we will say more about the important use to which one angel’s hand is put, DV. Here we merely observe that horses that pull earthly chariots are excellent beasts but, given that they have no hands, there are a lot of things that they cannot do!

These four living creatures with four faces, four wings and (two) hands are also full of eyes (12), like the four wheels. Their amazing vision enables the cherubs to avoid any collisions and escape all attacks.

Having concluded our consideration of the wheels and steeds of the divine chariot in Ezekiel 10, we now turn to its platform. In earthly chariots in biblical times, the platform was made of wood or metal. Thus we read of Sisera’s 900 “chariots of iron” (Judg. 4:3). This is Ezekiel’s description of the platform above the angels: “the likeness of the firmament [i.e., expanse] upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above” (1:22). Whatever it was, the platform had a crystalline sparkle that induced awe!

There were no seats in the chariots of Old Testament days. Depending on the size and function of the vehicle, one or two or three men stood in the chariot, which must have been tiring over long distances. So what was above the platform of the divine chariot? Ezekiel “looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne” (10:1). The word rendered “sapphire” is lapis lazuli. Resting upon the platform of God’s chariot is a brilliant deep blue throne made of one gorgeous stone!

A chariot in the ancient world was a sign of wealth, power and prestige, but what about God’s chariot in Ezekiel? It moves on four gigantic, omnidirectional wheels full of eyes; it is pulled by four cherubs with four faces, four wings and (two) hands; it has a platform of brilliant crystal, on which rests a throne of sparkling blue lapis lazuli!

Now that we have explained the nature of Jehovah’s magnificent chariot, we turn to its movement in connection with God’s glory. In the Old Testament, as is well known, God’s glory cloud was over the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies, the most sacred part of Solomon’s temple.

Jehovah’s chariot (with its wheels, living creatures, platform and throne) moves to the south of the door of the temple building: “Now the cherubims [conveying God’s chariot] stood on the right side [i.e., south] of the house” (3). The divine conveyance has taxied into position.

God’s glory cloud now leaves the ark in the holy of holies and moves to the temple entrance or the threshold of this mighty edifice: “Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub [in the inner sanctum], and stood over the threshold of the house [i.e., temple]; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord’s glory” (4).

Thus God’s glory cloud is at the temple threshold and His chariot is just to the south in the inner court. The four living creatures are, as it were, raring to go: “And the sound of the cherubims’ wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh” (5). Like motorbikes revving loudly on the grid of a grand prix, the angels are eager to get started. Once God’s glory cloud mounts the throne of His chariot, they will be off!

Indeed, this is what happens, for Jehovah enters His magnificent chariot and sits on His throne: “Then the glory of the Lord departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims” (18). Next, God’s glory leaves the temple building and its precincts: “And the cherubims lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord’s house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above” (19). Almighty God has departed from His temple!

So what is the lesson in all this for us? Ezekiel 10 teaches that a congregation or denomination can (and often does) apostatize, like Judah, so that the Triune God leaves it. This stands over against the Church of Rome’s claim that it is indefectible, that it cannot depart from God’s Word so that He departs from it. Rome states that, whereas individuals within her communion may apostatize, it is impossible for the church or institute of Roman Catholicism ever to do so.

The truth is that it is not only possible for Rome to apostatize and for God to leave it, but that this happened a long time ago! Rome is committed to evolutionism and higher criticism of sacred Scripture. It denies God’s all-encompassing providence and the infallibility of the Bible. The papacy’s seven sacraments are unbiblical, including baptismal regeneration, transubstantiation, masses for the dead, the worship of the wafer and the last rites. Rome’s doctrines of Mariolatry, free will, salvation by works, purgatory, indulgences, etc., are an attack on God’s sovereign grace and Christ’s cross (Gal. 2:20).

Moreover, any church or denomination can fall way and many have. In the history of Protestantism, some churches are now false and others no longer exist in any form. But this will have to wait until the next issue of the News, DV. Rev. Angus Stewart

 

The Advantage of the Jews

One of our readers writes, “In Romans 3, Paul says that the Jews, as a people, had an ‘advantage’ compared to the Gentiles in that ‘unto them were committed the oracles of God’ (1-2). Were not the Jews, therefore, externally blessed in this regard? They had tremendous access to the Word of God, not only in written form, but they also heard it directly from the prophets themselves—whereas the rest of the world were not given this (Ps. 147:19-20; Amos 3:2). The Jews also had the rite of circumcision and the privilege of being the covenant people of God. Paul writes in Romans 9 that to them, as a people, also pertained ‘the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises’ and even the privilege of being the very people ‘of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came’ (4-5). Were they not therefore blessed in this regard, having been given so many advantages, privileges and benefits? Similarly, surely a child born into a believing household can be said to be advantaged. He has the Scriptures read to him by his parents, he hears the gospel preached in church, and is even baptized and included as a member of a church, whereas children born outside the church to unbelieving parents are not given such an advantage; they’re not blessed in this way …”

The brother who submitted the question is correct in using the word “tremendous” to describe the privileges the Jews enjoyed in the Old Testament and still enjoy in some ways in the New Testament age. Romans 9:4-5 describes many of those privileges and so do other passages, such as Deuteronomy 4:7-8: “For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” and Deuteronomy 4:20: “But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day” (cf. 4:32-36). Romans 11:23-27 speaks of the privilege they still enjoy.

The brother is also right in suggesting that these privileges are the “advantage” to which the Word of God refers in Romans 3:1-2. Their advantage was not that they were able to save themselves by their own works, that is, by the works of the law, but simply that they were given privileges which the heathen nations were not given. As Jesus said to the woman of Samaria, “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22) or was in Old Testament days, before our Lord’s atoning death and His pouring out the Holy Spirit.

As the brother points out, these privileges are similar to those enjoyed by a child born into a covenant home, whose parents are believers. It is not only a covenant child, however, who enjoys such privileges but anyone who is a member of a faithful Christian church, whose friends and family are fellow believers, who has the Word of God (the “oracles” of Romans 3:1-2) at hand, who hears the preaching of the gospel regularly and who, in times of need, has others who will help and pray for him. Some even enjoy the privilege of working for a Christian employer or with believers.

These privileges or advantages are not to be taken lightly. They are means God uses for the salvation of elect covenant children, and for our growth in grace and knowledge. He shows us that He is pleased to use such means when they work for our own spiritual profit and the profit of others, but He also reminds us that He is sovereign and depends on no one and nothing when these privileges bear no good fruit, as among many of the Jews. When a child goes astray in spite of the instruction and example he received, and when our efforts to help and admonish a brother are in vain, then God especially shows that salvation is of the Lord.

Nevertheless, when God does use them for good, they are inestimable blessings. They work, as do all things, for the salvation and good of those who love God and who are the called according to His purpose. But the crucial question is, Are they also blessings to those who do not profit from them, like the unbelieving Jews? Does God bestow mercy, grace, lovingkindness upon those who ultimately perish in unbelief?

That God does not show grace, mercy, lovingkindness to those who perish is the teaching of the CPRC and the PRC, the churches to which I belong. If some of our readers are interested in further reading on that point there is material in the CPRC bookstore and on the CPRC website (www.cprc.co.uk/resources-on-uncommon-grace).

Several things must be remembered as far as the good things received by the reprobate are concerned: (1) they are temporal and temporary only; (2) they have nothing to do with any saving grace of God in Jesus Christ for them.

It is not wrong to say that God gives good things to those who never believe and who perish in their unbelief, but that does not mean He loves them or shows favour to them. In fact, such things are cursed by God and work for the ruin of the reprobate who receive them (Ps. 73:18-20). They leave their recipients under greater condemnation.

Jesus makes that clear in His words of judgment against Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum (Matt. 11:21-24): “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee” (cf. Matt. 12:41-42).

It all comes down to this: “But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48). We, who profess to follow Jesus Christ, have many privileges and blessings, and we must be thankful to the living God for them, treasure them, profit from them and use them well or we stand where the unbelieving Jews stood, who had everything taken away from them for their hardness of heart, unthankfulness and disobedience. Rev. Ron Hanko

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, BT43 5DR • Lord’s Day services at 11 am & 6 pm
Website: https://cprc.co.uk/ • Live broadcast: cprc.co.uk/live-streaming/
Pastor: Angus Stewart, 7 Lislunnan Road, Kells, N. Ireland, BT42 3NR • (028) 25 891851  
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The Reformation and the Bible

This Reformation Day lecture was published in the May 1, 1941 issue of the Standard Bearer and was delivered and penned by Herman Hoeksema, pastor of First PRC, Grand Rapids, MI and professor in the PRC Seminary.

* Lecture delivered on Reformation Day, 1940.

Tonight we celebrate the beginning of the Reformation of the church. We may, indeed, and often do speak simply of the Reformation, and every Christian that has any knowledge of the history of the Church knows that the Reformation of the sixteenth century is meant. Not, indeed, as if it were the only reformation of the Church in history. There have been others. In a sense we may even say that the Church is always, is continually reforming. But the Reformation of the sixteenth century concerns the entire Church in every land and of all the succeeding centuries. And, therefore, when one speaks of the Reformation without further qualification, it is understood that the movement is meant that was begun on the thirty-first of October four hundred and twenty three years ago.

It was on that night, the eve of All Saints Day, that Dr. Martin Luther nailed his famous ninety five theses to the door of the castle-church in Wittenberg, an act that was destined to have far greater consequences than its author even remotely surmised. These theses purposed to be nothing more than a protest against the sale of indulgences as it was conducted in those days. An indulgence, as you know, was a certificate of the forgiveness of sins signed by the pope. The pope, being in need of special funds for the building of the St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, had conceived of the idea of issuing a large number of these indulgences and offering them for sale to the people. It so happened that a particularly shameless monk, Tetzel by name, conducted this sale in a manner that was especially offensive, in the neighborhood of Wittenberg, where Dr. Martin Luther taught and preached. And learning of the methods of this monk, and hearing of his approach to Wittenberg, Luther’s fiery indignation was aroused, and he expressed this indignation in his ninety five theses, which on that night of the 31st of October, 1517, he nailed to the church-door, that on the (following day all might read and catch the fire of Luther’s indignation. Little did Luther himself realize the full implication of this act. Certain it is that he did not intend a break with the church. Yet such it was. The ninety five theses, which meant to be merely a protest against some of the corrupt practices of the church, was the beginning of the liberation of the church from the bondage of Roman Catholicism. It was in the truest sense of the word a declaration of freedom.

However, one who says this must needs say more. He must define this freedom of the sixteenth century. There are those in our day, who have long departed from the faith of the Reformers, who, nevertheless, claim them as their spiritual ancestors. They deny the Christ the Reformers confessed, they spurn the righteousness in the blood of the cross Luther so earnestly sought and so strongly emphasized ever since he found it; they must have nothing of the authority of the Scriptures which the Reformers held high; yet they also speak of the Reformation as the liberation of the church. They present the matter as if what Luther did on October 31st, 1717, was but the beginning of the movement that found its climax in the declaration of the autonomy of man, of reason. Luther, they say, liberated us from the tyranny and domination of the hierarchical church; modern thought only continued the same movement and also freed us from the tyranny of the book, meaning the Bible. To examine this claim and to expose its falsity we can do no better than to speak to you on: The Reformation and the Bible.

I will try to show you that the Reformation was:

A liberation of the Bible;
A liberation toward the Bible;
A liberation according to the Bible.

I. Not infrequently the Reformation is confused with and placed on a par with what is known as the Renaissance, or the revival of learning and art. And it is a result of this confusion when the Reformation of the sixteenth century is described as the liberation of the human reason from the shackles of all authority. Arthur Kenyon Rogers makes this error in the following paragraph from his “A Student’s History of Philosophy”: “Beyond Italy the Renaissance took on a somewhat different form. In Germany, where it was grafted on a type of mind naturally profounder and more religious, and where the religious life had already been deepened by the mysticism of Eckhart and Tauler and the Brethren of the Common Life, its most characteristic product was the Reformation of Luther; even Humanism in its German form, as typified in Erasmus and Melanchthon, shows strong religious sympathies. But the Reformation is an expression of the same revolt against authority. By its doctrine of justification by faith apart from any external mediation, and by its appeal to immediate Christian experience, it stood for individual freedom as against the pretensions of the Church,” p. 209-10.

It would be difficult to find a paragraph more crowded with errors than the one I just read. It presents the Reformation as a form of the Renaissance, which it certainly was not. It even declares that in Germany the Reformation was a product of the Renaissance, which it could not possibly be, even as light cannot be the product of darkness, grace of nature, faith of reason. Without further limitation it declares that the Reformation was an expression of the same revolt against authority as the Renaissance, which it certainly was not; in fact, with far more justice it may be said that the Reformation was a return to true obedience and subjection to authority. Nor is it true, that the Reformation made an appeal to Christian experience, least of all the experience of the individual freedom as against the pretensions of the Church, even this individual freedom may not be interpreted as the autonomy of the human mind and reason. The writer of that paragraph may, from his own viewpoint, have understood the Renaissance, he utterly failed to see the significance of the Reformation.

What, then, was the nature of the liberating movement of the Reformation? My first answer to this question is, that it liberated the Bible itself. You may, perhaps, remark that this is a somewhat strange expression. You object, perhaps, that the Word of God it always free and that it is quite impossible to put it in bondage. And this is true, of course, if you mean by the Word of God, the almighty and efficacious Word God Himself speaks. That Word is irresistible and certainly is never bound. And it did its work all through the ages, even in the darkest of periods. It was the cause of those separate movements that prepared the Reformation, connected with the names of John Huss, John Knox, the Waldenses and Albigenses, and to an extent Savonarola in Italy, and the Brethren of the Common Life in the Netherlands. It also prepared the Reformation in the soul of Luther, before it finally broke forth into a blazing fire on that memorable eve of All Saints Day in 1517. But what cannot be done to the Word of God as God Himself speaks it, certainly may be and often is done to the Word of God as we possess it in written form, in the Bible. It can be put into bondage. And this was actually done as it still is done by the Roman Catholic Church. It was from this bondage that the Reformation liberated the Bible.

In two respects the Bible was put into bondage by the Romish Church before the Reformation. First of all, it was buried under a pile of tradition, by which the Holy Scriptures were gradually being replaced. Doctrines and institutions of men were placed on a par with the Word of God. By this accumulation of tradition we are referring to the teachings of the fathers, the decrees of the ecclesiastical councils, and the official declarations of the Pope in matters concerning faith and walk. These were considered to be of equal authority with the Scriptures themselves. They were appealed to as the end of all argument. And it can readily be surmised that gradually they occupied a place of more importance and greater authority than that of the Bible. It must ever be so. Even with us, who theoretically hold that the Bible is the last and only court of appeal, and that all human doctrines and institutions and declarations, even the confessions themselves must be judged by it, it proves to be extremely difficult to revise or recant a declaration by the Church, once the Church has spoken. Witness the three errors of 1924. But how easy, then, it must be for tradition to gain the first place and the greater authority, when once it is admitted that it stands on a par with the Scriptures! Doctrines and practices of men took the place of the Bible; the latter was relegated to oblivion; its direct testimony was withheld and suppressed; and the Church, i.e. the Church Institute, i.e. the clergy culminating in the infallible Pope, became the final court of appeal! The authority of the Word of God had been subjected to the authority of the Word of Man!

As a necessary corollary to this first instance of putting the Bible into bondage, the Church also declared that she only, the Holy Mother Church, had the authority and the power to interpret the Holy Scriptures, and that all the individual members of the Church on earth were obligated to abide by that interpretation, to receive it as infallible, and never to believe or to teach anything repugnant to that interpretation by the Church. Free exegesis of Holy Writ was thereby strictly forbidden. Always one who would interpret the Bible, were he ever so able and learned, was bound to inquire, first of all, what was the explanation of a certain passage offered by the Church, and by it his own was bound beforehand. The result was, too, that the Bible was withheld from the laity. The Church, and by the Church Roman Catholicism ever means the clergy, the priest, the Pope, alone has the promise of being guided by the Spirit into all the truth. It is, therefore, dangerous for the common member of the Church as an organism to have the Bible in his possession, to read it and to study it for himself. Many passages are hard for him to understand, and without the guidance and authority of the holy Mother Church, he will readily distort them to his own destruction. Hence, it is better for him to come into contact with the Bible, not directly, but indirectly, that is, only through the interpretation of the Church, in whose infallible guidance he must have implicit faith.

Such were the views and practices of the Romish Church with respect to the Bible. That this is no mere Protestant opinion, but the actual stand of the Roman Catholic Church even today, may be gathered from the declarations of its councils and Popes. Shortly after the Reformation has become an accomplished fact the famous Council of Trent began its sessions, which were continued over a number of years. In its session of April 8, 1546 that body of Roman Catholic divines declared that: “seeing clearly that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions, which, received from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand: the Synod following the example of the orthodox fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament—seeing that one God is the author of both—as also the said traditions, as well those pertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ’s own word of mouth, or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession.” It goes on to enumerate the books that are considered canonical, including in them also the apocryphal books, and it declares at the same time, that only the Latin translation of the Bible known as the Vulgate shall be held as authentic; and it threatens with the curse all that refuse to receive as sacred and canonical this Vulgate edition of the Bible, together with all the traditions of the Church. Schaff: Creeds of Christendom, II, 81, 82. And it continues: “Furthermore, in order to restrain petulant spirits, it decrees, that no one relying on his own skill, shall,—in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine,—wresting the sacred Scripture by his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which Holy mother Church,—whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Holy Scripture,—hath held and doth hold; or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; even though such interpretations were never intended to be at any time published. Contraveners shall be made known by their Ordinaries, and be punished with the penalties by law established”, ibidem, 83. We could quote more, but this is sufficient to establish the truth of our contention, that the Bible was subjected to and held in bondage by human presumption of authority.

From this human bondage of the Bible the Reformation liberated the Word of God by declaring and insisting upon two truths. In the first place it announced the sufficiency of Holy Scripture. By this doctrine the Reformers did not intend to despise tradition. They well understood that also the Church of the past was led by the Holy Spirit, and they were far from that undenominationalism and “open Bible Churchism” of today, that would pretend to act as if our generation were the first that approached Holy Scripture and interpreted it. But they certainly did emphasize that no other word than the pure Word of the Gospel was necessary unto salvation for any man. They rejected tradition as being of the same value and authority as the Bible. Clearly this is already annunciated in the Formula Concordiae, which declared in Art. I: “We believe, confess, and teach that the only rule and norm, according to which all dogmas and all doctrines ought to be esteemed and judged, is no other whatever than the prophetic and apostolic writings both of the Old and of the New Testament, as it is written (Ps. 119:105): ‘Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.’ And St. Paul saith (Gal. 1:18): ‘Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed.’”

“But other writings, whether of the fathers or of the moderns, with whatever name they come, are in no wise to be equaled to the Holy Scriptures, but are all to be esteemed inferior to them, so that they be not otherwise received than in the rank of witnesses, to show what doctrine was taught after the Apostles’ times also, and in what parts of the world that more sound doctrine of the Prophets and the Apostles has been [preserved,” Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, III, 93, 94.

Clearly this is also expressed in the “Ten Conclusions of Berne,” which in its second article declares: (translated from the German) “The Church of Christ makes no laws and precepts outside of the Word of God; whence it follows that all institutions of men, called Church-ordinances, cannot bind us except in so far as they are founded in and commanded by the Word of God,” Schaff, III, 209. And in the First Helvetic Confession we read (Art. I): “The Holy, divine, biblical Scripture, which is the Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and proclaimed to the world by the Prophets and Apostles, is the very oldest, most perfect and most exalted doctrine, and it alone comprehends all that is conducive to the true knowledge, love and glory of God, to real and true piety, and to a pious, honorable and godly walk of life”. And in the second article it declares that the Holy Scriptures shall not be interpreted in any other way than in its own light. It further declares in Art. Ill that we will esteem those holy fathers, that did not deviate from this sound rule of interpreting Scripture, not only as true interpreters, but also as chosen instruments of God through whom God spoke and worked. And in the fourth article of this confession all other teachings and institutions of men, leading us away from the living God, are declared to be vain and powerless, be they ever so beautiful and attractive, respected and venerable with age. And this is emphasized also in our own Netherland or Belgic Confession of Faith, which devotes an entire article to the sufficiency of Holy Scripture, as follows (Art. VII): “We believe that these Holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe unto salvation, is sufficiently taught therein. For since the whole manner of worship which God requires of us is written in them at large, it is unlawful for anyone, though an Apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in the Holy Scriptures; nay though it were an angel from heaven, as the Apostle Paul saith. For since it is forbidden to add unto or to take away any thing from the Word of God, it doth thereby evidently appear that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects. Neither may we compare any writings of men, though ever so holy, with those divine Scriptures; nor ought we to compare custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times or persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, with the truth of God, for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore we reject with all our hearts whatsoever doth not agree with this infallible rule, which the Apostles have taught us, saying, Try the spirits whether they are of God; likewise, If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house”.

And over against the Roman Catholic view that the Scriptures can only be interpreted by the Holy Mother Church, the Reformation proclaimed the principle of the perspicuity of Scripture. The Word of God is clear to all. It must be interpreted, not in the light of an officially established interpretation, but in its own light. Exegesis must be free. Not even dogmatics, not even the confessions of the Church may dominate exegesis. And the Bible is sufficiently clear to be given to and interpreted by all believers. No, indeed, the Reformers did not favor the view that every individual Christian must interpret the Bible apart from the Church of the present and of the past. They had a clear conception of the Church and of the calling of the Church to preach and preserve the Word of God. The individual believer cannot with impunity disregard his organic relationship to the Church. But the fact remains, that the interpretation of the Bible cannot be the privilege of a distinct class, even though they be the officebearers of the Church, but must be granted to every believer. The Church must not speak instead of the Bible, but must merely be instrumental in letting the Bible speak for itself. Hence, the Bible was translated into the language of the people, so that all might have access to its treasures. The Reformation conceived as a liberating movement, first of all liberated the Bible from Roman Catholic shackles!

II. The foregoing already suggests that the Reformation at the same time was a liberation toward the Bible. By this I mean to express the idea, that the Reformation meant to be a movement to subject all men and the whole man to the authority of the Scriptures. The very fact that they liberated the Scriptures from the shackles of human oppression, clearly shows this. Why did the Reformers consider it so important so paramount that the Bible should be permitted to speak for itself to the hearts and consciences of men? Only because they regarded the Scriptures as being the Word of God, and, therefore, as being the final court of appeal, as having absolute authority, to which man must subject himself.

It is here that the Reformation principally differs from modernism, and stands diametrically opposed to it. I have already mentioned that even the moderns of today claim to be sons of the Reformation. They see in Martin Luther the herald of liberty, in whose steps they follow; they evaluate the Reformation as a great liberating movement, the work of which they, the moderns have carried on and still do carry forward. They look upon the Reformation as but another phase of the Renaissance. Both aimed at liberty. Both freed man from bondage, the latter in the sphere of science and art, the former in the sphere of religion. But they are mistaken, and the error they make is a very fundamental one. It is this: while the modernist declares the autonomy of Man, the Reformation insisted on the authority of Holy Scripture. The modern philosopher, scientist, preacher, will have nothing of authority. Man is the measure of all things. Freedom of thought means to him absolute independence of the human mind. But the Reformation insisted: “Das Wort sollen sie stehen lassen!” The Holy Scriptures were the sole criterion and source of our knowledge of God and salvation. It bound man’s mind and conscience to the Book!

This (philosophy of the autonomy of man, which makes man the measure of all things, which makes him the creator of his own world, the creator ultimately of his own God, received its most modern form in the preceding century, but is, nevertheless, very old. Always it found its adherents and prophets, that proclaimed it in some form or other. Principally it really dates back to the time when the devil subverted the Word of God into the lie: “Ye shall be like God.” It reveals itself in three different, more or less clearly distinct forms, according as it declares the autonomy of the human mind, the reason of man; the autonomy of the human feeling, experience; or the autonomy of the human will or conscience. In the first form it is known as Rationalism; in its second appearance it is Mysticism; in its third manifestation it is Moralism.

Rationalism is the philosophy that seeks the source and principle, the norm and criterion of all knowledge and truth in the human mind. Reason is supreme. And it is independent. It may not be bound by any objective authority. It is its own authority. It will know only that which can and does arise in the mind of man. Whatever is contrary to reason, and whatever is beyond or above its scope of comprehension, it denies. It will have nothing to do with revelation. Its attitude to the Holy Scriptures is that of a superior. It does not submit but rule. It does not listen but judge. And whatever cannot stand before the bar of Reason in the Bible must needs be rejected. And as human reason is needs limited to the things that are seen and heard, and the Word of God deals with things which eye hath not seen and ear hath not heard, neither have arisen in the heart of man, it stands to reason that Rationalism is essentially and ends up in Agnosticism, which is Atheism. It is the philosophy of the fool, that saith in his heart: “there is no God.” Needless to say that the liberation of the Reformation has nothing in common with this licentiousness of Rationalism.

Mysticism also declares the autonomy of Man and finds the source of all knowledge and truth in the subject, but in distinction from Rationalism it makes feeling or experience the court of final appeal, whether it be the experience of the individual or of the Church. It declares that the letter, meaning the Bible, is dead, it is the Spirit that quickeneth. It has a wrong conception of the relation between the Word and the Spirit. It denies that God has once spoken His Word, that His Word of revelation is perfect and complete, and that now the Spirit does, indeed, speak and can only make that Word quick and powerful like a two-edged sword, but that He never speaks another Word than that which is revealed in the Bible. It also elevates the authority of Man above that of Scripture, denies, in fact, the authority of Holy Writ. And since also the feeling or experience of Man is limited to the things that can and do arise in the heart of Man, and the Word of God deals with those things that can never have their origin there, Mysticism like Rationalism terminates in the morass of Skepticism and Agnosticism. And again we say, that the Reformation of the sixteenth century stands diametrically opposed to modern Mysticism.

The last form this philosophy of the autonomy of Man assumes, we said, is Moralism. It also denies the authority of the Bible, and makes the sense of moral obligation, the conscience, the moral judgment the source of all knowledge and truth, the measure of all true religion. All men have an eradicable sense of obligation, the consciousness of a must. From this sense Moralism attempts to conclude that there must be a God who causes this sense of obligation, who says to all men: “Thou shalt.” But from this consciousness they also derive the contents of their religion and worship of God. Man’s morality is the source and criterion of all truth and goodness. The objective criterion of the Scriptures is denied. Only as a moral code or textbook can certain parts of Holy Writ, especially the Sermon on the Mount, be useful. Like Rationalism and Mysticism also Moralism declares the absolute autonomy of Man. And again, it is easy to see that modern Moralism (falsely claims any affinity with the Reformation of the sixteenth century.

For, over against all these philosophies the Reformation loudly and clearly and very insistently proclaims the absolute authority of the Holy Scriptures. That the Bible is the Word of God, and that, therefore, the whole Church and every individual believer must unconditionally submit to the authority of Scripture, of the written Word, is the formal principle of the Reformation. It did not proclaim the freedom of Man from the Bible, but his liberty to subject himself to the authority of the Bible only. That was the clear-cut truth the Reformers preached and which they never tired of reiterating. That was the strength of the Reformation. That was the ground of its unshakable conviction, even as it is the cause of the lack of conviction in our miserable age and of the modern church that they refuse to acknowledge the authority of Holy Writ! Many a passage from the official creeds of the churches of the Reformation I might quote in support of this statement, but I will limit myself to the following from the French Confession of Faith, Art. V: “We believe that the Word contained in these books has proceeded from God, and receives its authority from Him alone, and not from men. And inasmuch as it is the rule of all truth, containing all the rule of truth, containing all that is necessary for the service of God and for our salvation, it is not lawful for men, nor even for angels, to add to it, to take away from it or to change it. Whence it follows that no authority, whether of antiquity, or custom, or numbers, or human wisdom, or judgments, or proclamations, or edicts, or decrees, or councils, or visions, or miracles, should be opposed to these Holy Scriptures, but, on the contrary, all things should be examined, regulated, and reformed according to them.” This was the formal principle of the reformation, and this principle we must maintain if we would be sons of that Reformation and perpetuate the liberty it inaugurated!

III. And thus I naturally approach my last point. For, the liberation of the Bible was accomplished, in order to restore the liberty toward the Bible, the liberty that consists in submitting to the sole authority of Holy Scripture; and this last liberation is necessary in order to make us truly free. There is no other liberty than that which is through the Word of God, and we have no other Word of God than that which we now possess in the Bible.

For what is true freedom? It cannot possibly be the same as human autonomy and absolute independence. It cannot be the state in which man is his own law, creates his own world, makes his own God, is the criterion of all things. It is not the condition in which man thinks as he wills, wills as he desires, acts as he pleases, without being limited and determined by any objective norm or standard. For man is not his own maker, but he is and remains a creature. He is not above, but under the law in the good sense of that word. And true liberty for him consists in this that with all his inner being and outward action, with mind and will and all his desires and powers he is in harmony with God. To please to do the will of God and to be able to do it,—that is liberty in the highest sense, nay, in the only true sense of the word.

But man has not this freedom. He is, on the contrary, in bondage. For he sinned and he is a sinner. He is in the bondage of condemnation, for he is guilty and is held under the sentence of death, and he knows it. He has no peace, because he is not a free man. And he is in bondage under the dominion of sin, a slave of the devil. He will not, and he cannot, and he cannot will to will and to do the will of God. Nor can he ever liberate himself from the shackles of his bondage. For he can neither atone for his sin, nor deliver himself from corruption. All his life he is in the fear of death; and there is no way out!

Martin Luther was conscious, painfully conscious of this bondage of condemnation and sin. And he understood that only in righteousness could there be liberty, the liberty for which his soul yearned. Hence, it became the supreme question of his life: how can a man be righteous with God? And as he sought an answer to that urgent question, the Church confronted him. And as a faithful son of the holy mother Church he recognized her, and anxiously turned to her for an answer to his question: how can a man be justified before God? And the church answered: you can obtain forgiveness and righteousness by way of confession to a priest; and Luther did so, but found no peace. The church answered: you can obtain righteousness by doing the good works prescribed by the church; Luther did so, but his question still remained. The church said: seek righteousness in the way of self-denial and self-chastisement; and Luther tells us that he tormented himself to death to make peace with God, but in vain. The church advised that he should make pilgrimages to Rome, and Luther went to the Papal city, only to find bitter disappointment. The church offered indulgences to bring peace to his troubled soul, but it was of no avail. And he tells us that although in those days he tormented himself, he found nothing but unrest and darkness.

The evangelical preaching of the town preacher at Erfurt had first brought him to a consciousness of sin and sent him in quest of righteousness and peace. That same preacher had boldly exhorted his readers to read the Bible. And Luther had gone in search of a Bible, but found none. For the Bible was an unknown quantity in those days, not only with the laity but with the clergy as well. And those that should have been preachers of the Word of God were deceivers, mockers, extortioners, lazily drifting along on the current of ecclesiastical tradition. The Bible was not to be found, and the question in Luther’s soul became more urgent all the time, especially when a dangerous illness attacked him, and when a friend of his was struck by lightning at his side. It was the desire to find an answer to his question that induced him to abandon the study of law and to seek peace within the walls of the convent in Erfurt. There he found his answer, though he did not at once recognize it. And the answer came to him from an old Bible, which he found in the convent, locked to a chain and buried under the dust of years. From that volume of Scripture the wonderful words came to him and remained lodged in his soul: “The just shall live by faith!”

It was, however, not until later that the full significance of these words dawned upon him. In fact, only on his return from his visit to the seat of Roman hierarchy did the words strike him in their full force, and were they applied to his heart as an answer to his anxious question. In Rome he had been amazed and shocked by the corruption of the church as it was represented by the higher clergy. Thoroughly dissatisfied, and pondering all the time upon his spiritual problem, the old words rushed back into his consciousness, now, however, with all their peace affording power: “The just shall live by faith.” Luther had found peace through the Bible as the Word of God, applied by the Spirit unto his heart; and, though at the moment he knew it not, God had prepared him at the same time for the work He had to do for him: to liberate the Bible from the bondage of the Church, in order that the Church might be called to return to the Bible, and through the Bible find liberty!

Another way to liberty there is not. For only if the Son shall make us free, we shall be free indeed. His cross and resurrection are the power to cut the shackles of our condemnation; by His Spirit He makes us free from the dominion of sin. And this liberty is not only proclaimed to us in the Gospel, but given unto us through that Gospel. The assurance that our sins are forgiven, and that we are righteous before God, set at liberty, cannot rest on anything less than the Word of God Himself. And that Word God by the Spirit of Christ speaks to us through the Word. To sweep away the hierarchical powers that would deprive the Church and the individual believer of that liberty which we have in Christ through the Word,—this is the great significance of the Reformation!

Let us learn the lesson. Let us be Reformed, indeed, but Protestant Reformed always, always zealously defending and jealously watching over the formal principle of the Reformation. Always the danger is lurking that the word of man, be it in the form of ecclesiastical declarations, creeds and confessions, private opinions and false doctrines, interposes itself between the Word of God and our faith. This may never be! Confessions are good and they are necessary. But never may they be more than means to bring to us and to (preserve for us the Word of God. And always must they be tested by and judged in the light of the Word of God as we possess it in the Holy Scriptures. Then, and only then, shall we preserve the precious heritage God again bestowed upon His Church in the world through the Reformation of the sixteenth century: the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free!

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PRC and Sister-Church News Highlights for October 17, 2021

The following are special highlights of PRC and sister-church news for this Sunday, October 17, the forty-second Lord's Day of this year 2021.

Psalms 27 8This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (Ps.118:24). On this new Lord's Day we bring our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving unto our sovereign God, who is worthy of all honor and glory. With the psalmist may we boldly say in Christ Jesus,

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD. ~ Psalm 27:4-6

  • If you are new to this website and are interested in the PRC, we invite you to join us at any of our services (morning and afternoon/evening). For congregations, locations and times, visit this page.

  • Last Sunday Rev. D. Lee accepted the call to Kalamazoo PRC. He and his wife are moving into the parsonage this week and he will be installed by Rev. C. Griess on Nov.7, D.V.

  • Today Rev. E. Guichelaar (Randolph PRC) declined the calls to Doon PRC and Hudsonville PRC.

  • Last Sunday Rev. R. Barnhill declined the call to Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA.

  • The Council of Covenant of Grace PRC (Spokane, WA) has a new trio of potential pastors to the congregation of Rev. D. Noorman (Southwest PRC), Rev. C.Spronk (Faith PRC) and Rev. Dan Holstege (Missionary, Philippines). The congregation will call next Sunday, Oct.24.

  • Wingham PRC has announced a new trio of Revs. D.Holstege, D.Kleyn, and D.Lee. The congregation votes today.
     
  • Classical appointments and pulpit supply for today in the vacant PRCs: Rev. R. Hanko in Covenant of Grace PRC (Spokane, WA); Rev. Rev. M. Kortus (2 weeks) in Doon (IA) PRC; Prof. B.Gritters and Rev. M.DeVries in Grace PRC; Prof. R.Cammenga and Rev. J.Mahtani in Hudsonville PRC; Prof. B.Huizinga and Rev. J.Maatman in Kalamazoo PRC; Rev. J.Smidstra in Wingham PRC.  We thank the Lord for this blessing of our church federation and the privilege to be able to help one another in this need.

  • For those who may still be limited to house worship, whether completely or partially, we invite you to visit the PR churches page and follow the links to the websites where the churches' livestream may be found. Or you may visit the selected audio sermon page and listen to one of your choice there.

  • Did you know that...
    •  these congregations are having Reformation Day lectures this year?
      • Covenant of Grace (Spokane, WA): Friday, October 22 at 7 p.m. Prof. Cammenga will speak on "The Reformation's Recovery of Marriage and the Christian Family".
      • Crete PRC (IL): Friday, October 29, 7 p.m. Mr. Dan Van Uffelen will speak on "Post Tenebras Lux: The Vocation Reformation."
      • Hull PRC (IA): Friday, October 22, 7:30 p.m. Prof. Kuiper will speak on “Luther Burning the Papal Bull: Encouragement to Flaunt Church Discipline?
      • Loveland PRC (CO): Thursday, October 21, 7 p.m. Prof. D.Kuiper will speak on "Luther Burning the Papal Bull: Encouragement to Flaunt Church Discipline?”
      • Pittsburgh (PA) PRC: Friday, November 5, 7 p.m. Rev. W. Bruinsma, on the life and labors of Augustine of Hippo.
      • Randolph PRC: Friday evening, November 5, 7:30 P.M. Rev. Guichelaar plans to give a presentation on the CRC split from the RCA in 1857.
    • Doon PRC (NW Iowa) is undergoing a building addition? Today's bulletin announced what progress can mean: On October 17 and 24 we will be unable to enter through the south doors of the building. Either of the north doors can be used to enter the building, and the ushers will usher from both of the front doors of the sanctuary.

PRC DENOMINATIONAL NEWS:

Concerning Rev. D.Holstege and family:
Rev. and Sis. Leah Holstege and family have now received the necessary documents and permission from the Philippine Government to return to the
Philippines. They are scheduled to return on Nov. 17, the Lord willing. Upon arrival, they will undergo a mandatory quarantine. Let us pray for them as they make preparations for their return. (Provident PRC bulletin)

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PRC Seminary Notices:

  • This past week the seminary completed its eighth week of the new school year (2021-22). Students have been taking mid-terms exams. This week Thursday and Friday (Oct.21-22) is the annual reading recess. Remember to pray for faculty, students, and staff as they conduct the day-to-day work. The semester schedule and calendar have been posted on the seminary's website.
  • The Spring PRT Journal is now available in its digital forms on the seminary's website and in print. If you wish to pick up a copy, stop in at the seminary. If you want to be added to our mailing list, contact Sharon, the seminary secretary.
  • Don't forget that the seminary library and bookstore are open daily (M-F, 8-5) for any of your book and Bible needs. The staff is available to assist with any other needs you may have as well.
  • Coming this month - Oct.28 & 29! Seminary Conference on Preaching: You sit under the preaching of the gospel every Lord’s Day. What do you hear? What do you desire to hear? What is God doing in your soul through the preaching? How do you respond to the preaching, to its admonitions, to the call of the gospel? The conference speakers will address these and other related questions. Four speeches will be given, at 4:00 and 7:30 on Oct. 28 and 29. Trinity PRC is hosting this event. Everyone who sits under the preaching of the Word is cordially invited to attend. The conference will be livestreamed for people who are interested but unable to join in person. (*see attachment for the conference flyer!)
  • For the latest seminary news and information, visit the seminary's website.

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Building of Berean PRC, Manila

SISTER-CHURCH/MISSION NEWS:

  • Covenant ERC, Singapore and her Kolkata, India mission work:
    • Today's bulletin: The Lord willing, we will be having our annual Reformation Day Conference on the 3rd and 4th of Nov. Mark your calendars down sent out the invites! Based on the reformational principle of Semper Reformanda, which means, "Reformed and always reforming", the theme of the 2021 RDC is “Always Reforming in Me”. The first speech is entitled, “The Word and Creeds in Me”. There, we would treat the question of how should God’s Word and the Reformed Confessions relate to our personal lives. In the second speech, “The Reformation Living in Me” we will be looking at the life of Martin Luther and the
      reformation, with the special focus on how we can live out the reformation personally in our lives in our present-day to the glory of God.
    • A new issue of "Reformed News Asia" is out - #64 - October 2021. Be sure to check it out for the latest news from our sister!
  • Covenant PRC, N. Ireland:
    • Rev. A.Stewart continues to minister the Word faithfully to his flock in Ballymena.
    • Plan to attend this year’s Reformation Day Lecture on Friday, 29 October, entitled “Fulgentius of Ruspe, the Sixth-Century N. African Church and God’s Saving Will.”
    • Be sure to check out the newest edition of "Covenant Reformed News" - September 2021. Follow the link to read the latest profitable articles.

  • PRC in the Philippines and her mission work:
    • Berean PRC bulletin: Rev. V.Ibe led the services today.The saints in All of Grace Protestant Reformed Fellowship (AGPRF), Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija, will join us in our
      worship services today via live streaming at our Facebook page.
    • Provident PRC bulletin: Rev. D.Kleyn will lead our worship services today. A livestream of our services will be provided at the “PPRC and Friends” Facebook page.
    • The Classis meeting of the PRCP is scheduled for Monday, November 1, at 9:00 a.m., to be held at the Berean PRC in Antipolo City.

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Listen to the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday - on a radio station near you, on Sermonaudio, or on your favorite podcast - wherever you are!

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  • For the next four months Rev. W.Bruinsma (Pittsburgh PRC, Pennsylvania) is the featured speaker, with focus on his series on Hebrews 11. Today's message is based on Hebrews 11:4 and titled "Abel's More Excellent Sacrifice."
  • Listen to the broadcast on the station near you, on your favorite podcast (Google Music, Spotify, and iTunes), or visit the links provided here to listen to this program. Are you are regular listener? If not, why not begin today!
  • The Reformed Witness Hour publishes each month's messages in an attractive booklet. These printed sermons are a great blessing to many and are distributed all over the world, including to many prisoners in the U.S. If you or your Evangelism Committee would like to receive these, let the RWHC know and they will add you to the mailing list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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REFORMED RESOURCES FOR EDIFICATION, EDUCATION, and EVANGELISM

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What are you reading for Reformation month? This fine collection of essays will inform and inspire you to carry on the work of reformation!

  • Are you interested in learning more about the doctrines and practices of the PRC? Or, are you in need of some pamphlets and/or articles published by the PRC for use in evangelism and/or witnessing? Or are you simply interested in growing in your faith and walk with the Lord? Visit the Resources pages of this website and the PRCA Evangelism page for a complete list of materials available in digital format or by order from the publishing church.

  • Do you need some catechism materials for use in your church or family? The PRC publishes catechism materials on Bible history and Reformed doctrine, for children of all ages. Visit this page for more information.

  • For sound, distinctively Reformed literature on a variety of subjects and for all ages - including church history and Bible study materials - visit the Reformed Free Publishing Association website or stop in at their Jenison (Michigan) location.

  • The Reformed Book Outlet is open and you are welcome to shop the store in downtown Hudsonville (MI). Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday (10-5), and Saturday (10-1).

This Week's Thought for Contemplation

Christ’s Return

The Reformed faith looks forward confidently to the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ on the clouds of heaven. In Matthew 24 Christ speaks of signs which precede His return. We see those signs being fulfilled today. We do not know the day or the hour of His return, but we know that it must be at hand. This ought to impress the church with the urgency to carry out its tasks faithfully to the end. It must preach the Word; it must evangelize; it must teach the children so that they may be prepared for the evil days which come upon the church. And the earnest prayer of the church is for Christ’s coming: “Even so, come Lord Jesus, quickly!” (Rev. 22:20).

The above [the complete pamphlet] is not designed in any way to be an exhaustive treatment of the “Reformed” faith. It should however, give a “thumbnail” description of that faith which has been held so precious through the centuries. On the basis of the glorious truths for which many gave their lives, we also would desire to seek fellowship with those who love these same truths so as to encourage and strengthen one another in the most holy faith.

Taken from Rev. R.Hanko's pamphlet "What Is the Reformed Faith?"

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